Television

Mumbai Police, Republic TV face off again

Cops claim they have busted TRP racket involving Republic; channel has denied wrongdoing; BARC say

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NEW DELHI: The Mumbai Police on Thursday said it has uncovered a TRP manipulation racket involving Republic TV. Two Marathi channels are also under investigation in the case.

With executives from the Republic – which claims to have the highest ratings among news outlets – being called in for questioning tomorrow, the channel dismissed the allegations and slammed the police for being vengeful.

"We have busted a fake TRP racket involving Republic TV and two Marathi channels – Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema. The owners of the Marathi channels have been arrested," Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh said in a press conference.

Republic TV has released a clarification on Twitter dismissing the allegations made against it by the Mumbai Police as “false.” The channel also accused police commissioner Param Bir Singh of a personal vendetta “because we have questioned him in Sushant Singh Rajput Case investigation.”

The news network claimed that there are no mentions of Republic TV in any Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) report and threatened to file a criminal defamation case against the Mumbai Police.

Following this controversy, BARC also issued a statement, promising to cooperate with the Mumbai police in their probe.

“As in all our previous cases of suspected panel homes intrusions, BARC India continues to follow its established vigilance and disciplinary guidelines. BARC remains steadfastly true to its purpose to accurately and faithfully report ‘What India Watches. BARC India appreciates the efforts of the Mumbai Police and will provide the support asked of it,” a BARC spokesperson said.

Detailing how the alleged scam operated, Singh said that the accused would ask certain households in Mumbai to keep some channels on even while they were not watching them. “One accused has been arrested with Rs 20 lakh seized while Rs 8.5 lakh has been found in a bank locker.”

He added that bank accounts of the accused channels will be investigated properly, along with their sources of ad revenue. If any criminal activities are observed, further action will be taken against them.

One of the arrested persons reportedly used to work with a company under BARC. Some of the wanted accused people are past and existing employees of Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd and they have misused confidential data which had been entrusted to them.

Hansa Research CEO Praveen Nijhara clarified, "This is with reference to the media reports regarding TRP ratings being manipulated. Hansa Research and BARC conducted an investigation into the matter over the last few weeks, the conclusion of which resulted in Hansa Research filing an FIR against an ex-employee who was engaged in some wrongdoing. Hansa Research has always been vigilant about these issues and has been proactive in informing BARC and the law enforcement agencies as and when such cases have come to our notice. We would continue to cooperate with BARC and with the authorities as and when called upon to do so.”

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